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Cold Weather Links: Kind players, jerk owners, and LeCroy on a legend

More odds and ends from around baseball, some sad, some happy.

Snow And High Winds Hit The UK
when title jokes get too obscure
Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Well, winter’s back. After abandoning us through most of the season, it’s been engaged in some serious makeup sex as of late. Polar vortexes, snow shovels, icy roads, all the normal all at once. Be grateful you don’t live in Portland. (Three inches there is like three feet here.)

As we deal with winter and whatever it brings, it’s always good to remember two things. 1) Don’t watch The Terror. 2) Give a thought for our neighbors who don’t have places to stay.

While baseball’s charity associations generally avoid homelessness because of whatever reason, some individuals have lent a hand. During the last World Series, Red Sox star Mookie Betts was attending a postgame dinner. Catered dinners always prepare way too much food, and it had just gotten chilly in Boston. So Betts and his cousin brought the fancy catered leftovers to people sleeping outside the library. (Betts had given away food before, and hit a homer the next day, so baseball’s ritualistic behavior does some good.)

Last year, Justin Morneau sponsored a coat drive (with a little help from Joe Mauer and Corey Koskie). But the best story goes to ex-Pirates pitcher Josh Harrison. He and his family were packing up to leave Pittsburgh once he no longer played there, and transporting all the furniture would be a hassle, so they just donated it to a rescue mission. And signed his baseball cards for the movers, which is neat, unless one really wanted a Kyle Crick card.

In the Twin Cities, you can support several worthy charities helping shelter & clothe those in need; the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities are two large ones. If you don’t have the money right now, there will often be coat drives run by your community’s schools or places of worship. In Saint Paul, Joseph’s Coat accepts donations year-round, which they give out for free; that’s only one example.

And, not strictly baseball, but during the recent super-cold some unknown person in Chicago rented out 70 hotel rooms for people who’d recently lost their tents & sleeping bags. Who knows — it might have been A.J. Pierzynski. Probably not, but you can’t rule it out...

In crummier Chicago news, Cubs owner and raving nutcase Joe Ricketts recently got some of his emails leaked, which were full of racist idiocy. Really, sports owners: if you want to be a hateful jerk, do it on the golf course, don’t send it through the Interwebz. (It’s happened before.) In the Chicago Tribune, a lifelong Cubs fan who’s Muslim expressed dismay at Ricketts’ bigotry. (Switch to the Twins, we’re cool.)

More Cubs: you should definitely, absolutely read this amazing story about former pitcher Luke Hagerty. Once a prized prospect, in 2005 he developed a mental roadblock which made him suddenly incapable of control. Over 6.2 innings, he “walked 30, allowed 14 hits, threw nine wild pitches and hit four batters.” Hagerty tried indie ball, saw sports psychologists, none of it worked. So he quit baseball, started a youth-training business, and guess what? He’s been invited to Cubs spring training camp, at age 37, throwing harder than ever before. It’s one helluva tale, and every Cubs fan will be rooting for him.

Offseason update: owners still aren’t signing anybody. This so annoyed Giants players that they called the front office out on it during their version of TwinsFest. Over at Pinstripe Alley, Jake Devin took a look at the Yankees’ claims that they just can’t afford anybody else. Devin crunched money numbers, and concluded the claim “strained credulity.” Apparently you can’t put “full of horses**t” in article titles on that site.

Every year, owners and players propose rule changes, and every year some fans get all kerfluffled. No reason to be, folks. Both sides have to agree for most of these changes to take effect, and usually what suits the players displeases the owners & vice-versa. (As Hayden A pointed out, one change is happening for sure.) Interestingly enough, what owners can do without players’ OK is the single dumbest idea: a pitch clock. My guess is they avoid that, but agree to more reductions on mound visits, since it’ll never be enforced anyways.

Finally, baseball lost the gifted and groundbreaking Frank Robinson last week. A first-ballot Hall Of Fame inductee, he became the game’s first African-American manager in 1975. Robinson was managing the Expos when they got stolen moved to DC, and former Twin Matt LeCroy briefly got a chance to play for him.

Anyone who loves LeCroy will remember the time this partnership went very, very badly. With his normal catchers banged up, Robinson started a similarly ailing LeCroy behind the plate; he allowed seven steals, committed two errors, and was pulled defensively in the middle of an inning. Robinson cried as he walked out to get LeCroy, as he hated humiliating a player in front of the fans.

LeCroy talked about that day with Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown, and how it it was just one of many instances where Robinson showed the utmost repect for his players. I’ll bet you didn’t know this — LeCroy’s managing now! He’s in charge of Washington’s AA team. (I didn’t know it, at least.) And tries to treat players the same way Robinson treated him.

That’s all for this time — dream of spring, folks. It will get here eventually. And give up a coat when you can.